Companies hoping to sell marijuana for medical use in Massachusetts will be required to hire an independent lab to test their products for contaminants, such as heavy metals and pesticides, under final rules that regulators approved by unanimous vote Wednesday morning.
The provision is among dozens of changes made by the Department of Public Health to draft rules the agency released in March, after staffers reviewed hundreds of suggestions from advocates on all sides of the contentious issue. The rules previously would have allowed marijuana dispensaries to conduct their own testing.
The revisions also will make it easier for families to get marijuana for sick children.
“We have received over 190 written comments,” Cheryl Bartlett, interim deputy public health commissioner, told the Public Health Council, an appointed body of academics and health advocates, before it voted to adopt the rules. “Our task is to balance access to marijuana with community security and impacts.”
The Globe reported last month that few credible labs will test marijuana products for contaminants for fear of losing federal government contracts, because medical marijuana is not sanctioned by federal law, according to researchers who study the medical marijuana industry.
The updated rules aim to address this concern by suggesting that staff at these independent labs be required to register with the state, to provide them some measure of legal protection. The rules also establish a framework of standards and independent accreditation for labs testing marijuana.
By Kay Lazar
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